Dave Alston and his brother Harry joined the freshman football team in September, 1941. They are reported to be the first Negro football players at Penn State.
On August 15, 1942, Dave died from complications following a tonsillectomy. The 20-year-old pre-medical student was a dominant halfback for the undefeated freshman squad and was expected to lead the varsity squad during the upcoming season.
Dave Alston was a triple-threat on the gridiron. He was a fast, exceptionally accurate passer, and he could kick more than 60 yards. He was often compared with greats like Jim Thorpe. Penn State Football Coach Bob Higgins called Alston “the greatest player I ever coached.” And Esquire magazine named Dave Alston the top sophomore football player in the nation and a preseason All-American just prior to his death.
Alston was exceptional off the field as well. The son of a minister, he had been student council president and an honor student at Midland High School (Midland, PA).